On Google Glass and Empathic Teaching

Recently, my library embarked on a Google Glass adventure. There’s so much to say about Glass and its implications, but for this particular post, I’m going to focus on one particular use case.

It's me! Wearing Glass!

It’s me! Wearing Glass!

I’ve seen several blogs which suggest the same use case for Glass in the classroom: Have students wear Glass to record their experiences in class, on field trips, and throughout their day. The site I’ve linked to suggests that these videos could then be rewatched by students so that they can think critically about their experiences, analyzing why they make certain choices by revisiting those moments over and over. But what if a teacher asked a student to record their experience in class, and then the teacher viewed that student’s experience? Glass, I would argue, provides serious opportunities for empathic teaching.

Empathy is, basically, the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Empathetic teaching involves putting yourself in the learners’ shoes, which can lead to more culturally sensitive interactions, improved learning outcomes, and connection to students.

What if we could use Glass to almost literally put ourselves in students’ shoes? Glass’s biggest advantage is it’s placement on the face—thus, all the first-person videos created using Glass. I think it would be really interesting to have a student use Glass and record their experience in a class—where they look, where they start to lose attention, etc. Watching a record of the class from the student’s point-of-view is the closest we can get to actually being a student in our own class.

What would we notice from our student’s unique viewpoint? We might be able to see the moments where things get confusing, where the thread is lost. We could follow their thought process in solving problems. We could see what students consider important enough to jot down. The videos wouldn’t be used for criticism or evaluation (though you certainly could use Glass to evaluate process, but that’s another post). Instead, we could use them to improve lesson plans and determine what needs clarification, review, or rethinking.

Of course, there are potential stumbling blocks. It’s infeasible to do this every day, for one thing. For another, Glass is distracting and new enough right now that it is unlikely that a Glass video would capture an authentic experience. And, of course, there are technical limitations: Glass’s battery doesn’t last that long, though the new KitKat update should help.

What do you think? Does Glass have any implications for teaching?

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Filed under Education, Library Instruction, Posts by Dani Brecher

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